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UN climate talks make scant progress to save Kyoto

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Fri, 17 Jun 2011 17:09 GMT
Author: Reuters
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(Repeats to fix format)

* Steps on green technology, adapting to climate change

* Deadlock on Kyoto unresolved, needs solution in 2011-UN (Recasts, updates throughout)

By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

BONN, June 17 (Reuters) - About 180 nations took small steps to help combat climate change at U.N. talks ending on Friday, without breaking a deadlock over the fate of the Kyoto Protocol that risks collapsing at the end 2012.

The United Nations said the June 6-17 talks among government negotiators made "clear advances" on issues such as sharing green technologies, including solar or wind power, and ways to help poor nations adapt to impacts of climate change.

But all said the pace was too slow and negotiators failed to resolve disputes between rich and poor about extending the Kyoto Protocol, the existing U.N. deal that demands cuts in greenhouse gases by almost 40 industrialised nations until 2012.

"Resolving the future of the Kyoto Protocol is an essential task this year," Christiana Figueres, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, told a news conference, adding that negotiators "are creatively and constructively exploring all options".

Kyoto risks dying after Japan, Russia and Canada say they will not sign up for deeper cuts in emissions under Kyoto beyond 2012, arguing that a global deal, backed by all big emitters including China and India, is a fair next step.

But developing nations say Kyoto is a test of developed countries' past promises to lead in slowing global warming, set to cause more heat waves, droughts, floods and rising sea levels that are likely to hit the poorest hardest.

"The Kyoto Protocol is the only legally binding instrument to tackle emission reductions in an effective way. There is a need to preserve the Kyoto Protocol," developing nations in the Group of 77 and China said.


The European Union, now Kyoto's main backer, rejected calls from developing nations to go it alone and lead an extension of Kyoto beyond 2012 with others such as Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland.

"The EU only represents 11 percent of global emissions. For climate negotiations truly to move forward, the other 89 percent has to engage much more," said Connie Hedegaard, EU Climate Action Commissioner.

Environment ministers will meet in Durban, South Africa, in late 2011 to try to resolve the standoff.

Kyoto's future has become the main focus after a U.N. summit in 2009 failed to agree a new treaty. Many nations are more concerned by weak economic growth, or efforts to bail out Greece.

Further complicating Kyoto's fate, the United States never ratified the 1997 U.N. deal, arguing that it unfairly omitted targets by major emerging emitters such as China and India and would cost U.S. jobs.

Washington says it will not join. Figueres said there would be another meeting before Durban -- delegates said it was likely to take place in Bangkok or Panama.

"There is not yet enough progress," said Jonathan Pershing, heading the U.S. delegation, despite some advances on details of mechanisms to share clean technology and working out a mechanism to help the poor adapt to impacts from floods to rising seas.

Many environmentalists said the talks were alarmingly slow, especially after the International Energy Agency said that global carbon dioxide emissions rose by 5.9 percent in 2010, to a record level, despite promises of cuts.

Others said that they had made steps forward after getting bogged down in Bangkok earlier this year. "The rumours that this process is dead in the water...are much exaggerated," said Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

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(Editing by Alistair Lyon)

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